Thriller 40: release date, trailer and everything we know about the special event

 Key art for Thriller 40.
Key art for Thriller 40.

In the early 80s, Michael Jackson released what many music lovers consider to be the best pop album of all time, Thriller. Now more than 40 years later, Thriller 40 is a documentary that celebrates the legendary impact of the album, while talking about how the project came to be.

Helping to tell the story of Thriller are some big-name music stars in their own right including Usher, Mark Ronson and Mary J. Blige. If your interest isn’t piqued yet, allow us to also mention that the special event gets into the lyrics of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” An explanation of those alone makes this special worth a watch.

Here’s everything we know about Thriller 40.

Thriller 40 release date

Thriller 40 premieres on Saturday, December 2, at 8 pm ET/PT on Showtime. If you’ve cut the cord to traditional cable/satellite TV, Showtime is available on live TV streaming platforms such as FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV. The special also becomes available to stream on December 2 on Paramount Plus with Showtime.

The documentary debuts on December 2 on Paramount Plus in the UK, Australia, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Latin America and South Korea.

Thriller 40 trailer

Here is the official trailer of the documentary. Watching the clip, you’re reminded that before Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, Michael Jackson was the top name in music.

Thriller 40 premise

Here is the official synopsis of Thriller 40:

"Forty years after the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the best-selling album of all time worldwide, Director Nelson George takes fans back in time to experience the making of the record-breaking album and the release of the accompanying short films that forever redefined the music video format. Featuring never-before-seen footage and exclusive interviews, Thriller 40 chronicles the creation of a pre-internet global phenomenon unlike anything before it or since. Thriller launched Michael Jackson into mega-stardom and to this day continues to influence all aspects of culture and entertainment including the worlds of music, dance and fashion. Music and entertainment luminaries including Usher, Mary J. Blige, Will.I.Am, Mark Ronson, Misty Copeland, Maxwell and John Landis are featured in the documentary.

Songs on the Thriller album

Thriller won a record-breaking eight Grammys in 1984, including Album and Record of the Year. Here is a track listing for the entire album:

1. "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
2. "Baby Be Mine"
3. "The Girl Is Mine"- Michael Jackson with Paul McCartney
4. "Thriller"
5. "Beat It"
6. "Billie Jean"
7. "Human Nature
8. "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"
9. "The Lady in My Life"

Thriller 40 director

Nelson George directed Thriller 40. George previously took to the director’s chair for projects such as Say Hey, Willie Mays!, The Real MVP: The Wanda Durant Story and A Ballerina’s Tale. He was also an executive producer on the 2023 Emmy-nominated docuseries Dear Mama.